Most Common Health Issues for Seniors

Most Common Health Issues for Seniors text overlaying image of a senior talking with her doctor As you age, you’ll start to face new health problems, and old ones become harder to treat. Thankfully, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), seniors today can expect to live longer and healthier than ever before. That doesn’t mean you don’t have to be careful with your health though. Taking steps like quitting smoking, losing weight, and eating healthier can help you avoid the most common health issues that seniors face.

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  • Heart Disease

Heart disease is one of the most common health problems that seniors have to deal with. There are a range of conditions that fall into the heart disease category:


  • Blood vessel diseases
  • Arrhythmias (irregular heartbeat)
  • Congenital heart defects
  • Heart muscle disease
  • Heart valve disease

Heart diseases are also called “silent killers” because they don’t always have obvious outward signs. You have a higher risk of heart disease if you have diabetes, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol. 

Heart Disease Symptoms

Heart disease symptoms vary depending on what types of disease it is:

Blood Vessel Disease Symptoms

Coronary artery disease is a common heart problem that affects the main blood vessels that bring blood to the heart muscle. Most of the time, coronary artery disease is caused by cholesterol buildup (plaque) in the heart’s vessels. This plaque build up can lead to the heart and other parts of your body getting less blood. Which can lead to heart attacks, angina, or stroke. Men and women can have different signs of coronary artery disease. For example, men more commonly experience chest pain while women are more likely to have nausea, fatigue, and shortness of breath. Other symptoms include:


  • Chest tightness
  • Chest pressure
  • Pain in the neck, jaw, throat, upper abdomen, or back
  • Numbness, pain, weakness in your legs or arms

Coronary artery disease might not be found until you have a heart attack or stroke. It’s important to keep an eye out for any of these symptoms and talk to your doctor about them. If you mention it early enough the disease can be found and treated early.

Arrhythmia Symptoms

Arrhythmia is when your heart is beating too fast or slow in an abnormal way. In general, heart arrhythmias can lead to problems like stroke, sudden death, and heart failure. Blood clots are more likely to happen in people with heart problems. If a clot breaks free, it can move from your heart to your brain and cause a stroke. Some signs of arrhythmia are:


  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Chest flutters
  • Lightheadedness
  • Racing heartbeat
  • Shortness of breath
  • Slow heartbeat

Congenital Heart Defect Symptoms

Adult congenital heart disease (ACHD) is a group of disorders that affect the structure of your heart and are present at birth. “Congenital” means that the problem was there when the baby was born. It happened while the baby was still in the womb. These diseases can change how your heart pumps blood. They are also called birth defects of the heart.


Heart problems that are present at birth can be mild or very dangerous. Depending on the type of heart disease and how bad it is, signs may not show up until a person is an adult. Some people never feel anything at all. And some people were treated for these conditions when they were kids, only to have long-term effects as adults. Symptoms include:


  • Blue tints to fingernails, lips, and skin
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Heart murmur
  • Heart palpitations
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Shortness of breath
  • Swelling in your ankles, feet, or hands

Heart Muscle Disease Symptoms

Heart muscle disease, or cardiomyopathy, makes it harder for senior’s heart to pump blood to the rest of your body. Cardiomyopathy can cause the heart to stop working. There are 3 types of cardiomyopathy: dilated, hypertrophic, and restrictive. Depending on the type of cardiomyopathy and how bad it is, treatment might include medicines, device implants, surgery or in the worst case heart transplant. Symptoms include:


  • Breathlessness
  • Swelling in your legs, ankles, and feet
  • Bloating
  • Coughing
  • Difficulty lying down
  • Fatigue
  • Chest discomfort
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting

Heart Valve Condition Symptoms

The aorta, mitral, pulmonary, and tricuspid valves are the four valves in the heart. They open and close to help the heart pump blood. Many things can hurt the valves in the heart. A heart valve can become narrowed (stenosis), leaky (regurgitation or weakness), or not close properly (prolapse).


Heart valve disease is another name for valve heart disease. Depending on which valve isn’t working right, the signs of heart valve disease are usually:


  • Chest pain
  • Fainting (syncope)
  • Fatigue
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Shortness of breath
  • Swollen feet or ankles

Medicare And Heart Disease

Medicare Part B pays for heart disease blood tests every 5 years if your doctor orders them. You don’t necessarily have to have any signs of heart disease to get these tests done, you can have them just as a precaution if you’d like. Original Medicare pays 100% of the Medicare-approved amount for screening blood tests for heart disease. This means you don’t have to pay anything. Medicare Advantage plans have to cover heart disease screenings without deductibles, copayments, or coinsurance if you see a provider in their network.


During your heart disease check, your doctor may find something new or old that needs to be looked into or fixed. This extra care is diagnostic, which means that your doctor is treating you because of some signs or risk factors. During a preventive visit, Medicare may charge you for any medical care you get.


  • Obesity

As the number of seniors in the U.S grows, so does the obesity rate. According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, more than one-third of seniors were considered obese. Research has shown that obesity puts older people at risk for a wide range of health problems. When a person is overweight, their organs are put under extra stress, which makes it hard for them to work properly. If you are obese as a senior, you are more likely to have health problems like:


  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension
  • Respiratory problems
  • Arthritis
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Cancer
  • Mobility issues
  • Body pain
  • Gallbladder disease

Additionally, obesity has been shown to cause depression and a low quality of life. Depression in old age can put you at a higher risk for heart disease and other serious health complications.

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Medicare and Obesity

Recent changes to Medicare Part B are a big step toward getting doctors and patients alike to see obesity as a serious health problem. So, beneficiaries with a BMI (body mass index) of 30 or more can get free obesity screenings and behavioral therapy through the Intensive Behavioral Therapy for Obesity program. Their services must be given by a doctor, nurse practitioner, physician’s assistant, or clinical nurse specialist. Covered services include:


  • Initial BMI assessment
  • Nutritional evaluation
  • Ongoing weight loss and dietary counseling


Medicare only pays for visits that take place in a primary care setting as part of the Intensive Behavioral Therapy program. If your doctor tells you to see someone else, like a chef, you’ll have to pay for those services yourself. Some Medicare Advantage (Part C) plans give you more benefits, which can help you lose weight. These plans may cover gym memberships and subscriptions to exercise programs like SilverSneakers, an app for older people that helps them stay fit. For a short time, some Medicare Advantage plans may also cover the delivery of healthy meals to your home.


Medicare will pay for bariatric surgery if your doctor says you need it because you are very overweight (BMI of 35 or higher). In most cases, you’ll need a certain BMI and at least one health problem connected to your weight, like diabetes or heart disease, in order to get coverage. You must also show that you have tried and failed to lose weight in the past by dieting or working out.

  • Diabetes

Diabetes affects about 33% of adults ages 65 and up. People in this age group are more likely than younger people with diabetes to get problems like hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), kidney failure, and heart disease. There is new knowledge that can help us better understand and treat diabetes in older people. Special things should be taken into account to help people’s general health and quality of life. Many older people have more than one condition at the same time, such as cognitive impairment, heart disease, and others that affect how they learn about and take care of their diabetes. 

Diabetes Symptoms

Diabetes can cause you to feel tired, hungry, or thirsty more often, to lose weight without trying, to urinate a lot, or to have trouble seeing clearly. You could also get skin diseases or take a long time to recover from cuts and bruises. Some people with diabetes may not know they have it because the signs usually come on slowly and are easy to miss. Seniors sometimes brush off these signs as “getting old,” but they could be signs of a major problem. If you have any of these signs, you should talk to your doctor.

Medicare And Diabetes

If you have been diagnosed with diabetes or have certain risk factors, you can rest easy knowing that Medicare Part B covers free diabetes screenings, prevention programs, supplies and nutrition therapy. So you won’t have to pay your deductible or the copayment for Part B, which is usually 20% of the cost of services paid by Medicare. Part B also pays for lessons on how to take care of your diabetes on your own, but you may have to pay the Part B deductible and copay.


You can get up to two diabetes checks a year for free if your doctor thinks you might get diabetes and you have any of the following risk factors:

  • High blood pressure
  • Abnormal cholesterol history
  • High blood sugar
  • Obesity

Or if you have 2 of more of these:

  • Are 65 or older
  • Had gestational diabetes during a pregnancy
  • BMI of 25-29.9
  • Parents or siblings with diabetes


One Medicare-covered diabetes prevention program can help you avoid type 2 diabetes, which often happens to people because of what they eat, how little they exercise, or how they live their lives. The program includes weekly group meetings for six months to help you change your diet, move more, and keep your weight in check, as well as six monthly follow-up meetings.


To be eligible, you must have certain amounts of glucose in your blood or plasma, a BMI of 25 or more, and no history of type 1 or type 2 diabetes. Part B needs you to go to a program put on by a Medicare Diabetes Prevention Program provider that has been approved.

Nutritional Therapy

If you have diabetes or kidney disease and your doctor tells you to go to nutrition therapy, you don’t have to worry. This service may include an initial nutrition and lifestyle exam, individual and group nutritional therapy, help with managing lifestyle factors that affect your diabetes, and follow-up visits. The nutrition therapy services must be given by a registered dietitian or another qualified nutrition worker.

Diabetes Supplies

Medicare covers a lot of products for seniors with diabetes, like blood sugar monitors, glucose test strips, glucose solutions, and lancets used to draw blood. It also pays for constant glucose monitors for seniors who take insulin or who have had trouble with low blood sugar in the past. Part B says that these items are covered as long-lasting medical tools. After you’ve paid your Part B payment for the year, you’ll pay 20% of Medicare-approved costs.


You must buy the equipment from a Medicare-enrolled supplier or order it through Medicare’s mail-order program using a Medicare national contract provider. A Part D prescription plan pays for things like alcohol swabs, bandages, inhaled insulin devices, needles, and syringes that are used to give insulin.

  • Dementia

Dementia isn’t just one illness. It’s actually a general term for a group of signs that people with different diseases, like Alzheimer’s, may have. Diseases that are called “dementia” are caused by changes in your brain that make it not work properly. The symptoms of dementia cause a decline in cognitive abilities that is serious enough to make it hard to live on your own or do daily tasks. Dementia also changes how you act, feel, and relate to others. 


60-80% of dementia cases are caused by Alzheimer’s disease. Vascular dementia is the second most common cause. It is caused by tiny blood clots and blocked blood vessels in your brain. People with mixed dementia have brain changes that stem from more than one type of dementia at the same time. Most people call dementia “senility” which is wrong because that term comes from the belief that mental decline is a normal part of aging, which it’s not.

Medicare And Dementia

Medicare covers dementia care, providing much-needed assistance throughout the condition. Alzheimer’s, vascular dementia, and other dementias require comprehensive care across multiple healthcare providers. However, Medicare addresses many of these needs, thankfully.


First, Medicare Part B covers cognitive tests. These are essential for senior dementia tracking. Doctors can adapt treatment plans based on cognitive changes in you or your loved one through regular cognitive exams. They can also identify the patient’s dementia stage. Medicare Part B provides cognitive and home safety tests. These examinations can detect household hazards that could injure or complicate dementia patients. The evaluations suggest ways to make living safer and dementia-friendly. Medicare Part B also covers care planning. The advancement of dementia requires care modifications. Medicare care planning helps address medical, social, and mental needs as dementia progresses.


Medicare Part A covers hospital stays for complications or severe dementia progression. Inpatient care at general or mental hospitals is included. Dementia care requires pharmaceutical management, which Medicare Part D provides. This prescription drug coverage covers doctor-prescribed dementia drugs. This coverage can greatly minimize senior drug expenditures, which can add up. While Medicare provides extensive coverage, it’s crucial to understand your plan’s deductibles, copayments, and other out-of-pocket charges. Remember that knowing what to expect might make dementia care easier.

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Don’t Wait! Start An Emergency Fund Today

If the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that sometimes the unexpected happens. Unfortunately, has also taught many families that they are financially underprepared for a crisis. In 2019, research by the Federal Reserve revealed that 22% of Americans regularly expect to forgo or make late payments on some of their bills. In fact, 40% of Americans can’t afford a $400 emergency. Many of us are that close to financial danger. That’s one veterinarian’s bill, two flat tires, or a few days of missed work. caucasian man and woman sitting on a couch looking worried with a piece of paper in the womans hand

Financial insecurity means more than overdue bills and missed payments. Debt causes stress that can have pretty drastic physical and psychological repercussions. If you are worried about your financial future, or if you feel like you’re in dire straits right now, know that it’s not too late to turn things around. We’ve compiled some financial tips and tricks from the experts to get you on the road to rebuilding your savings account and starting an emergency fund. 

The Physical Side of Stress

If financial issues have you feeling overwhelmed, you’re not alone: 62% of adults report often feeling stressed about money. That stress can wreak havoc on our bodies. Considering that American debt has increased by a whopping 300% since the 1980s, is it a coincidence that we are also experiencing higher rates of chronic diseases? Experts have mixed opinions, but there is some speculation that the amount of stress Americans are under is the culprit, along with other systemic, environmental, and psychological factors. For example, high levels of stress   are associated with:

blood pressure machine with a weekly pack of pills in front of it
Being stressed out can lead to high blood pressure , which can lead to other serious health conditions with your heart.
  • High blood pressure. Often linked to heart attacks, strokes, and a myriad of other health issues, high blood pressure can be triggered by stress. This could be due to the body’s overproduction of stress hormones like cortisol, or due to poor coping mechanisms like binging on snacks. 
  • Diabetes. Evidence suggests that chronic stress can increase the risk of diabetes in adults. To make matters worse, financial uncertainty can limit a person’s access to healthy foods and time or ability to exercise, which can further add to the problem. Evidence also suggests a link between a family’s financial struggles and the incidence of type 1 diabetes in children.
  • Digestive issues. There is a well documented connection between stress and gastrointestinal issues. When under heavy financial stress, many don’t follow regular eating habits. Healthy food may not even be accessible or affordable for those in financial trouble. In addition, 27% of people with high debt stress reported having ulcers or other digestive tract problems, compared to just 8% who did not report high levels of financial-related stress.
  • Muscle tension. Over half of all people who experience high debt stress report muscle tension and back pain. When you’re worried about supporting yourself, or your family, it really can feel like you’re “carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders”. To help relieve these symptoms, consider simple stretching and de-stressing exercises

Of course, it doesn’t help that people who are under financial stress often avoid seeing the doctor out of fear of medical bills. In fact, 1 in 5 people say they have skipped or have considered skipping a routine or sick visit to the doctor’s office. This is understandable, considering that 56 million Americans have difficulties paying their medical bills – just one of the many reasons to work on building an emergency fund! 

Turn It Around Today! 

It’s not too late to take steps towards lightening your financial load. The best way to start is by saving for an emergency fund. Having money put aside can grant you some peace of mind: you’ll know that your expenses would be covered for a while should you lose your job or become unable to work, or that you would be able to cover a surprise expense, like a large medical bill or automotive repairs. Some financial experts suggest squirreling away three to six months of expenses in an emergency fund that you can access if you need it – so, not in an IRA or 401k account. For some people, three to six months worth of expenses is an unimaginable amount of money, so start with these five small, but meaningful steps:

  • Learn about the cycles and struggles of debt. Understanding how debt compounds and impacts your psychological and physical wellbeing is the first step to breaking out of that cycle.

    pink piggy bank standing on top of some money
    Reevaluate your budget and begin saving money so you can be prepared for the worst.
  • Re-evaluate your budget. Nothing in life is constant, so it is important to evaluate your budget regularly. Turning to auto-payments is a great place to start, and reduces the risk of late fees.
  • Pay yourself first. Treat your savings account like a bill, and pay it. Some people deposit a percentage or a flat amount of each paycheck, others deposit monthly. Whatever schedule works for you, stick with it! 
  • Turn your savings into profit. Make sure you’ve got your savings funds in an account that accrues interest. It might not add up to much – the average return for most bank accounts right now is between around 0.3% and 0.8% –  but every bit counts! 
  • Turn your debt into savings. After you pay off a debt, continue budgeting for it – but, instead of funneling money into that debt, use it to overpay on another balance owed;  otherwise, put it right into your savings account. 

You’re not alone in feeling overwhelmed by the stress of debt and the fear of unexpected financial crises. Digging yourself out of debt is hard, but with some simple changes you can get back on track. And doing so, even with baby steps, will help to ease your mind and support your good health.

Staying In Touch In Your Golden Years

As we get older, it’s easy to feel isolated. We know that a sense of community and connection is pivotal for the health and wellness of seniors, but how to maintain that sense of community when living alone is a difficult conundrum. As we navigate critical public health issues and an uncertain future, it is even more important to stay connected with family and loved ones – near and far. 

Connection Counts

blood pressure reading with a heart in the middle
Connecting with loved ones helps your blood pressure, reduce risk of heart disease, and more.

Even before the pandemic, having a consistent routine of checking in with family and friends was difficult! Adult children have families of their own and are often juggling multiple schedules, and many seniors report feeling concerned about “burdening” their friends. But reaching out, especially during tough times, is vital for our emotional health. In addition, aside from the important emotional benefits of staying in touch, there are myriad long term health benefits. Keeping in contact with loved ones promotes:

  • Healthy blood pressure levels
  • A strong immune system
  • Cognitive function
  • Reduced risk of heart disease, obesity, and mobility issues
  • Overall longevity

The question, then, isn’t whether you should spend time with family and friends, but how. Luckily, we live in a time when we have a variety of options for connecting from afar. Here are five tips for staying connected with loved ones even when you can’t be together physically. 

  • Bring back love letters! And not just for romance. There is something so unique about  handwritten letters; they can turn mundane content like a description of your daily walk or a recipe into something elegant and treasured. Letter writing is a dying art, and a letter is a gift your friends and family will cherish forever. older caucasian woman sitting in a robe with a towel on her head looking at her laptop
  • Have a high-tech hangout. With tech tools like FaceTime, Facebook Messenger, Skype, Zoom, and Whatsapp, families and friends can connect through video calls across the globe. FaceTime video calling is built into iPhones, and the other platforms are free to use with an account. 
  • Collaborate on a weekly happy hour. Schedule a regular time to “hang out” with your friends using one of those video calling platforms, and try something new! Maybe you can all try out a new recipe together, or collaborate on a crossword puzzle. Some video call platforms even have games built in, like virtual charades or hangman. 
  • Email. Much like the romance of a letter, but faster. It’s also easy to attach photographs to an email, which adds a visual component that makes you feel even more connected.
  • Take a virtual vacation. Sure, most of us aren’t traveling right now. But because of the pandemic, many world-class destinations like museums and national parks are offering free, virtual tours. You can call up a friend and explore together from the safety of your own homes! 

Tools of the Trade

While technology is expensive it is worth splurging on as a way to keep in touch with loved ones. You don’t need to have the newest, fanciest tech gear, but it is helpful to have these basics:

  • A smartphone. They’re not only great for phone calls with high-quality sound – most smartphones have video call capabilities built in, or are powerful enough to host some of the platforms for video chatting in mobile format. Also, smartphones nowadays have really powerful cameras – great for snapping and sharing memorable moments! older caucsasian man holding a cell phone up smiling
  • A computer or tablet. These are the best options for video calling – they offer a stable, high resolution picture which means you can actually see the smiles on the faces of your favorite people. These tools aren’t cheap, but by shopping around you can find one that fits your needs and your price range. 
  • High quality WiFi. Probably the most important aspect of all. If you reside in an assisted or community living situation, it is likely they have high speed WiFi to accommodate multiple residents and their guests. If not, make sure you’re up-to-date with your local provider. You can always call your provider to ask about upgrading your plan to fit your needs – many have offered free or discounted upgrades due to the pandemic. 

What matters more than the tools or the tech is the frequency with which you check in with your loved ones. Whether it’s daily, weekly, or monthly, establishing regular lines of communication will help keep up the routine, and bring a sense of normalcy during a strange and scary time. The pandemic has created an even greater sense of isolation for many folks, and that isolation is often accompanied by stress, anxiety, and a feeling of hopelessness. Being connected to your community of loved ones isn’t going to solve all of the problems we’re facing, but it can make you feel better and give you something to look forward to. It’s always a good time to reach out!

This Household Vitamin Could Be The Key To Reducing COPD Attacks

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, COPD, is common with almost 12 million people in the U.S. diagnosed every year. Of those adults who are diagnosed, about 120,000 die from it annually. COPD includes a combination of lung conditions that make it hard to breathe, such as chronic bronchitis, and emphysema. According to a new study, people with COPD, are more likely to have an exacerbation if they are deficient in vitamin D

How It Is Deadly

Internal look of lungs.
COPD includes a combination of lung conditions that make it hard to breathe, such as chronic bronchitis, and emphysema.

COPD affects a person’s lungs and their ability to breathe. When symptoms get worse, often unexpectedly, a lung attack can occur. These lung attacks can create an upper respiratory infection. As symptoms worsen, the likelihood of death is increased substantially. 

Reducing Death

The deadly lung attacks might be averted by a daily dose of vitamin D. Adrian Martineau, Ph.D., clinical professor of Respiratory Infection and immunity at the Queen Mary University of London, led a study and analyzed data from 469 patients with COPD from 3 clinical trials. He focused on a number of people taking vitamin D doses daily. His findings were that higher levels of vitamin D in patients had a 45% reduction in lung attacks than those who were deficient in vitamin D. 

Dr. Martineau said, “Our study shows that giving supplements to vitamin D-deficient COPD patients nearly halves their rate of potentially fatal attacks.” And that “Vitamin D supplementation is safe, and it costs just a few pence to supplement a person for a year—so this is a potentially highly cost-effective treatment that could be targeted at those who have low vitamin D levels following routine testing.”

How Much Vitamin D?

Researchers from the study provided the COPD patients with oral vitamin D3 doses varying from 220,000 IU in six months to 1.2 million IU in 12. What this means is that you should keep your vitamin D levels above 30-40 ng/mL (nanograms per milliliter), and in order to do this, 1000-5000 IU of vitamin D3 is needed a day. 

Cooked salmon laying on a bed of tomatoes with mushrooms and cheese on top.
Vitamin D can be found in foods such as salmon. mushrooms, fish, and more.

Vitamin D supplements can be found in your local grocery store, and in pharmacies. Food is also a great way to get the vitamin D your body needs. Your diet should include salmon, sardines, canned tuna, shrimp, egg yolks, mushrooms, oatmeal, and milk. These foods are high in vitamin D and offer more nutrients for your body. If you cannot get out in the sun to soak up your 10-30 minute daily dose of vitamin D, then supplements and your diet are great ways to get this essential nutrient.

The clinical trials conducted by the researchers offered great insight as to how to reduce a lung attack from COPD.  Soon, another clinical trial will be conducted in order to fully understand the effects of vitamin D on people with COPD. Vitamin D has been found to offer protection against asthma attacks, the flu, and more. It might not be a miracle vitamin, but it does offer many benefits, and will not cause harm to your body. If you suffer from COPD, vitamin D might just be what you need to reduce the chances of a lung attack, and possibly save your life.

Is Being A Helicopter Mom That Bad?

I will never forget the time I was at a Labor Day party, checking on my kids, who were 4 and 2 at the time, and someone at the party made a helicopter noise with their mouth. I stopped and looked at him, and said: “I just want to make sure they don’t get hurt.” I thought about it the whole way home, and well, still to this day. Am I a helicopter mom? Is it really a bad thing?

silhoutte of a helicopter
Being a helicopter parent, even though you have good intentions, comes with some long-term consequences for the children.

I was the only parent there who checked on their kids, the others never got up. So, I decided to do some research on the meaning of helicopter parenting and its consequences. There are many reasons that parents hover over their kids, whether to make sure they succeed, don’t get hurt physically or emotionally, or to overcompensate on the love they did not receive as a kid.

As parents, no one wants to see their kids get hurt, and we all want them to succeed. However, there has to be a balance. After reading some of the future consequences on kids from parents who hover, I decided to scale back. Do not get me wrong, I still like to be completely involved in their lives, but I have learned to allow them to gain experience and play with others on their own without stepping in (too much). It is not easy at all, because I want to protect them in every way possible, but I have to allow them to succeed, fail, and learn from it. I have to provide that balance for the sake of their psyche and growth.

The Different Studies

Studies were performed on kids of all age groups, from children and teenagers, to college students relating their mental health and behavior to the type of parents they had. Kids were brought into a room with their parents and were given a puzzle to complete. The parents were not told to help their child. The study revealed that the parents of children with social anxiety touched the puzzles more often than other parents, even when their kids did not seek help.

Another study conducted in 2010 by researcher Neil Montgomery, a psychologist at Keene State College in New Hampshire, showed that college students who have overprotective parents exhibited childlike and adolescent behavior. About 300 college freshmen were surveyed about their parent’s involvement in their lives. Of the ones who had helicopter parents, they tended to be less open to new ideas, were more vulnerable, self-conscious, and dependent.

The study that probably hit me the hardest in easing up on my kids was the one conducted in 2016 from the National University of Singapore. It indicated that children with parents who had high expectations of their kids were anxious and depressed. The kids blame themselves for not being perfect, due to the parent’s actions or words indicating that what they do is never good enough. That was my parents when I was growing up, and the feelings of anxiety followed me into adulthood.

The Long-Term Consequences

Helicopter parenting is not a bad thing if done in moderation. But if you overdo it, kids will suffer in the long run. Multiple studies have shown that the major future consequences on kids with helicopter parents are:

  • Underdeveloped Brain– The more parents problem solve for their children, the less likely the child’s brain will be able to develop in the critical thinking and problem-solving area. The brain will not have exercised enough.
  • Low-Self Esteem– Constantly fixing things for your kids, and not allowing them to learn for themselves
    black and white picture of a young girl sitting on a bench looking down.
    Studies show that children who grew up with helicopter parents dealt with depression. underdevloped brains, low self-esteem, and other negative effects.

    leaves them with little confidence to succeed on their own. When a parent hovers around their kid doing things for them, it creates feelings of codependency, like they are not smart or good enough on their own.

  • Inability To Cope– When a parent cleans up after their kid, solves their problems for them, or prevents aproblem altogether, it is a mistake itself. Why? Well, the child will never develop inherent ways to cope with stress.
  • Depression– A child’s depression and anxiety increase with a helicopter parent. The child is always seeking guidance because they have not built self-confidence. They become nervous when making a decision on their own.
  • Sense of Entitlement– Kids who are given everything by their parents, or have everything done for them, develop a sense of entitlement. They become demanding and feel like they have a right to get what they want. (Who wants to deal with that?! Not me!)

Finding A Balance

Parenting is not easy. Every parent knows this because raising children does not come with a manual (although I wish it did!), and we just want them to succeed in everything they do. But it is not realistic. They will struggle, fail, break a bone (hopefully not), and they will get rejected. And that is okay! As parents, we need to give them tools so that when they fail,  they know how to pick themselves back up, shake it off, and carry on, to be confident enough to love themselves, remain positive, happy, and to learn from their mistakes.

So how can we find a balance between helping our kids, and not hovering/taking over? Well, it’s a struggle on both sides. But it is allowing them to do tasks that they are physically and mentally capable of doing, with some direction from you. Here are some approaches you can take:

  • When your kid is struggling with homework, allow them to solve it on their own. I know this is hard to do. It is for me at least. I just want to help my daughter find the solution quickly, but it is not okay. They have to try to come up with it on their own and learn to problem solve. Encourage them to solve it with creative solutions, and help guide them. But never just do it for them.
  • Listen to your kids and what they are saying, Allow them to be themselves and grow without pushing your desires on them.
  • Allow your child to face consequences for their actions. We want to protect our kids, but letting them deal with the consequences of their actions and words will teach them not to do the action again. Unless it is life altering or unfair, allow it to happen.
  • Teach your child to speak up for themselves and defend themselves, as long as it is done in a respectful manner. There will be bullies in their life and kids bossing them around. As much as we want to be the ones to go to school, or those kid’s parents, we must allow them to stand up for themselves.
  • All kids will have strengths and weaknesses. Learn to accept all of it, and help them use their strengths to succeed.
  • Do not raise your kid to expect special treatment. Our kids are special to us, but they are not great at everything they do. For example, in sports, parents will fight with the coach to put make their kid the star and get special treatment. This is not okay, if your kid wants to be better in the sport then this is not the way to go about it. Teach them to work harder and practice more to achieve the position they want.

    the word encourage spelled out with scrabble pieces being help by a little girl's hands.
    Instead of hovering over your kids, and doing things for them, simply encourage them to make their own mistakes and learn from them. Encourage them to be their own person, and to colve a problem using their strengths.
  • In order to foster self-confidence in your child, praise them accordingly. When you praise your child try saying “You must have worked hard on that, good job.” Instead of saying “That’s so good, you’re so talented.” It promotes self-confidence that they worked hard on something, rather than it is a talent that comes effortlessly. Teaches them to work hard for success, and appreciate more.

The consequences that followed the kids into adulthood were extremely upsetting to me. It opened up my eyes. Not only was I hovering, but I directed them on how to do stuff, and eventually took over and just did it myself. I would tell them what to say, how to act, how to interact with other kids, and I would make sure they were not bullied when playing. If they got hurt I would run to them right away to comfort them. I do not want my children to be anxious, depressed, and unable to cope with all the stress and problems that come with life. I want my kids to be happy and able to conquer anything. So, I learned to back off a little, and let them play with their friends outside. As much as it pains me, I let them get hurt, struggle, and learn from it. And I let them stand up for themselves, but also make sure I am there to be their net when they fall to comfort them.

As parents, we have a sense of duty to jump into our kid’s lives and what they’re doing. But we have to dial it back and let them discover who they are, their strengths, weaknesses, and who they want to be. Once they fail and learn from it, they will become stronger, smarter, and more independent. The ultimate goal of parenting is to raise kind, smart, and independent people. This can only be done with some dirt under their nails, and a whole lot of love and support behind them.

“Loss Of Language, Not Intellect”: Aphasia After A Stroke

A stroke can be horrifying, leaving the person with various challenges to overcome afterward. Aphasia is one of these challenges, caused by damage to the brain. It affects about 2 million Americans and occurs more in older adults than younger adults. Even though so many people in America have this disorder, more have never heard of it. This is why June is listed as National Aphasia Awareness Month, hoping to educate more people about it. Just because a person has this communication disorder does not mean they are less intelligent. They just have a hard time communicating. It is like when you have a word on the tip of your tongue, and you can not remember the word. There are different types of aphasia, from mild to severe, but with consistent speech therapy, a person has the chance of recovering fully.

What Is Aphasia?

Brain with microchip in the middle connecting circuits throughout the brain.
Aphasia often occurs after a stroke. It is caused by damage to the left side of the brain.

Aphasia is a communication disorder that affects a person’s ability to speak, read, write, and listen. It does not affect intelligence and is not a mental illness. It happens when there is damage specifically to the left side of the brain. The damage can be caused by a stroke or traumatic impact. People with the disorder experience it differently, dependant on what part of the brain is injured.

What Causes Aphasia?

Aphasia is usually a direct result of a stroke. About 25-40% of stroke survivors will develop aphasia. When a clot blocks a vessel in the brain, a stroke occurs. If a vessel ruptures, then hemorrhaging occurs. If blood is exposed to the brain, then it will become damaged. Why? Blood is actually poisonous to the brain. Other factors that cause aphasia are brain tumors, infections, head trauma, dementia, and Alzheimer’s.

The Types of Aphasia

People experience aphasia differently. It can be mild, or severe, and depends on what aphasia type they have after a stroke. The four different kinds are:

    1. Expressive (Broca’s) Aphasia– Injury to the frontal regions of the left side of the brain. The individual has a hard time forming complete sentences. The person knows what they want to say, but can not say the correct word or sentence. They tend to leave out words like “is” or “the.”  They understand the things they’re hearing or reading, but can not respond properly.
    1. Receptive (Wernicke’s) Aphasia– The individual has trouble understanding what is being said. For the individual, it is like being in a room where everyone is talking a different language, and they understand a few of the words. They say words that do not make sense or string them together meaninglessly.
    1. Global Aphasia– This is the most severe due to the damage done to the front and back regions of the left brain. It is a more widespread impairment. The individual loses almost all language function and has both a hard time understanding and forming sentences. They can not speak or understand what people are saying, nor can they read or write.
  1. Anomic Aphasia– This is the least severe form of aphasia. The individual will have difficulty using the correct name for people, places, or objects.
Caucasian sitting down with their hands on their lap, sitting in a circle with others blurred in the background.
Group therapy is used as a form of treatment for aphasia.

Recovery & Treatment

Aphasia is not always permanent, and some people can completely recover. This depends solely on a few factors that play a role in a successful recovery. These are the cause and severity of the brain damage, where exactly the brain damage is, and the age and health of the person. If symptoms last longer than 2-3 months after a stroke, a complete recovery is not likely. However, there are several treatment approaches to help a person improve over time. It is a slow, long process, but it will improve symptoms.

There are a variety of speech therapy exercises and techniques for stroke survivors with aphasia. They include:

    • Cognitive linguistic therapy which helps the person practice comprehension skills while interpreting the emotional components of language.
    • Programmed stimulation uses pictures and music.
    • Art therapy
    • Stimulation-facilitation therapy focuses on auditory stimulation.
    • PACE therapy uses drawing, pictures, and other visuals to help the individual generate ideas to be communicated.
  • Group therapy allows the individual to work together and more openly with those dealing with the same issues.

In order for therapy to be successful, there must be support from family and friends. It can be frustrating for all involved. The important thing is to

Yellow square note with "yes or no?"written in the middle of it.
Family and friends should ask yes or no questions to make communication easier.

remain calm. Family and friends should ask yes/no questions, write things down one word at a time, talk one idea at a time, and use gestures/props to communicate easier. It will take some time, but it will be beneficial for everyone, especially those with aphasia slowly working towards recovery. Remember, a person with aphasia did not lose their intelligence, just their ability to communicate it.